Money lessons from the masters

Chances are, you’ve learned a whole lot about money from your nan/ gran/ ouma/ gogo plus grandpa/ oupa/ umkhulu. These savvy seniors are frequently frugal superstars prone to starting sentences with ‘back in my day…’

They tend to share wisdom at every opportunity, but we don’t always listen like we should. While times may have changed, the core values remain the same. In fact, not much advice beats money lessons from the masters.

Kenosi Magosha, Head of Client Solutions Saving at Sanlam, says she got many of her money lessons from her mom who still shares some tips now and again. “There’s so much wisdom that sits with our elders on everyday money habits.

They’ve lived full and fascinating lives and have a wealth of insight to share. The principles of being careful with money, spending wisely, setting goals and saving smartly transcend time and the generational divide. Sharing these stories brings us together. There’s lots we can learn from loved ones to empower us also in the conversations we have with our financial planners.”

Having these conversations is critical. Here is what a few of our local money masters have to say on money matters:


Q: What’s your number one money lesson for family and friends?

EF: Discipline your children from a young age to cultivate a healthy relationship with money and teach them that you don’t always have to be rich to do that.

Set an example for your children. I didn’t make big debts and always save, no matter the amount. I knew how to work with my money; as a mother of six, I had to.

My husband and I would sit and work out how much we’d need for things like rent, food and clothing. We didn’t live beyond our means. Whatever was left over we’d put into savings for a rainy day. I didn’t want to borrow from anyone because I grew up not always having things and didn’t want that to happen to me as an adult. I was disciplined from a young age.

Q: What’s your proudest savings accomplishment?

EF: Buying my house in 1959. It was R7 000 and I’m still living in it today; it’s been 60 years.

Q: Tell us what something cost when you were young:

EF: A pair of shoes that costs over R1000 or R2000 nowadays – I’m talking real leather shoes! – would cost under R100 in the 60s. The same with clothing and good quality items too! Not like today’s rubbish.

In the 1950s, I could do all my shopping for R10 which meant buying meat, groceries and veg. This is when I was a young mother – 28 years old.

When I was a teenager, around the late 40s it used to be 1 shilling and 6 pence for the movies and you could buy a chocolate and a popcorn …You could eat yourself full at the bioscope for just a little money.

Q: As a money master, what’s your top tip for saving?

EF: Don’t waste your money on nonsense; buy just what you need and not always what you want. I taught my children this too.


Q: What’s your number one money lesson for family and friends?

NC: When you are young you must think of a roof over your head before things like a car. Rather plan to save for something big so that you’ll be committed to a good investment. Don’t buy on loan or get into debt; rather work then save and buy in cash.

Q: What’s your proudest savings accomplishment?

NC: Going to Mecca. That was achieved through two months of serious saving. (Fun fact: Nurah is excellent at holiday saving! In the last three years she’s saved and been on two boat cruises and to Bali, Turkey and Mecca – twice)

Q: Tell us what something cost when you were young:

NC: Schooling for my child costed R240, but because I was a single parent, I didn’t have to pay anything. My children went to a public school and that was one of the benefits from the government. When I got married in the 70s, I bought my first house for R6500. At that time, I could buy a month’s groceries for R7.50.

Q: As a money master, what’s your top tip for saving?

NC: If you earn R1000 save 10% of that R1000 and keep it for a rainy day or put it into your bank saving account. It’s important to be savvy with setting goals and choosing the right savings vehicles.


Q: What’s your number one money lesson for family and friends?

VM: Parents should investigate good schools and tertiary education for their kids. When we invest in the young people, we’ll know that we’re preparing for the tomorrows.

Q: What’s your proudest savings accomplishment?

VM: I have two proud savings accomplishments. When I managed to send two of my daughters to college at the same time and pay the bulk of their tuition fees upfront. And I managed to save and buy a new house at age 43, which gave a great deal of stability.

I remember in 1992, it was the first year that my eldest daughter attended a Model C school. I think during those days, the school fees were R600 per year.

On top of that, I managed to encourage my wife to attend college because I may die one day, so she needs to be able to take care of herself so that she can take care of the family. My wife’s college fees for her teaching diploma in 1995 were not more than R3500 a year.

Q: As a money master, what’s your top tip for saving?

VM: If you feel you don’t have a lot of money, you should work on achieving one priority at a time. You need to ask yourself what’s the most important thing to work towards with what you currently have. If you take on too many priorities at once, you’re likely to fail all of them. If we can eat three times a day, we are very rich. Just make sure you put your kids through a good education.

Magosha concludes, “Saving for a home, a child’s education and/or financial independence are all big goals. Listening to pearls of wisdom from experienced loved ones who have managed these things is reassuring and can help lay the foundation for the good financial behaviour that’ll help you achieve them too. It’s also always a good idea to chat with a financial adviser to build a strong, attainable savings plan.”

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